Conversations with mum guilt

May 2, 2016

Gill on rug lying on rug

Oh mum guilt, and its many manifestations. It’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? The conversation often goes something like this:

  • Me: I refuse to feel mum guilt. Go me!
  • Mum guilt: Hi Gill
  • Me: What are you doing here?
  • Mum guilt: Just wanted to say hey
  • Me: Really? Come on, you know you’re not welcome here…
  • Mum guilt: I know, but I thought I’d see how you were doing. And about that thing…
  • Me: What thing?
  • Mum guilt: You know, *that* thing.
  • Me: But it’s 3am and I’m trying to sleep
  • Mum guilt: Yeah, I know, but… I’ll just pull up a chair shall I?

Guilt seems to be an inevitable part of the motherhood make-up, along with caffeine, striped tops and red lipstick. I really, really resolve not to feel it. But like a tired and teething toddler it follows me around, tugging at my skirt.

I feel minor flashes of mum guilt about many things, including, inevitably: bed times, balanced diets, screen time, the fact they only ever go swimming on holiday, being late because of this, the thought of this happening again, telling one or both of them to hurry up right after I’d read one too many Huffington Post weighty think pieces about ‘how I’ll never tell my daughter to hurry up’ and the list goes on.

But the latest one is finding out Florence doesn’t speak at nursery. She’s a talker from a long line of talkers (don’t get me or my mum started. I mean it). So it was a surprise to find out she just doesn’t speak at nursery – she speaks on the way there, she chatters away as soon as I lift her over the gate, she’s just silent there. If actions speak louder than words, what does it mean when she refuses to use any?

It’s a warm and nurturing environment, she settled in quickly and has a great time (honestly – I’ve seen her when she hasn’t seen me). She just doesn’t speak. While everyone has it down as a case of simple separation anxiety or shyness, for me this is now a full-blown case of oh my, what am I doing go her?! 

  • Me: ARGHHH, am I damaging her for life. Is she traumatised, what am I doing to her, am I, am I?
  • Alex: I’m sure it’ll be fine
  • Mum guilt: Enters stage left.What’s that you say? MmHmmm… *head tilt and knowing look*

But, as I have to remind myself, mum guilt shouldn’t be a factor when you do things in the best interests of you both based on the best possible decisions.

If you left your child with a pack of wolves while you went for a nose around Selfridges then out for cocktails till dawn and came home two days after then you probably should feel guilty about it. If you’re making the right decisions for you and your children then you shouldn’t feel guilty. I think.

I know it won’t go away, and you’ll always hear it as background noise. I think it’s probably quite healthy, in small amounts.  But maybe it’s time to change the conversation to make it go something like this…

  • Mum guilt: Hey Gill! About that random thing…
  • Me: NO!
  • Mum guilt: Woah! Calm down…
  • Me: Shhh. SHUSH.

So down with random mum guilt, I reckon. I refuse to listen.

More posts…things they don’t tell you about in NCT (like the guilt!) five ways my mobile makes me a better mum and how London changes when you’re a parent

2 Comments

  • Judy Clements

    May 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I can so totally relate to this. Mum guilt is so hard to suppress… It seems to always be lurking in the background like a bad smell. I’ve had some big decisions to make re my kids education and all I have been feeling is constant mum guilt.

  • Louise

    May 3, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you I struggle with mummy guilt too. Pre children I didn’t know it was humanely possible to feel so guilty about Everything!!
    My chatty daughter (2y)never used to talk at preschool she would pull the staff if she wanted them and point and gesture
    Cue panic omg is it because of the new baby? Is she unhappy? Does she have social problems? Omg I’m a bad mummy & im a qualified nanny so I should have done a better job.

    Fast forward a few weeks maybe a month and she’s beginning to talk to them! I’m still the same mummy and the new baby is still here but I think She’s just grown up she’s more confident and she’s loving preschool as she always did.

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